On October 17, Rutgers Law School announced that it had received a $6.5 million gift from the Stephanie and Harold Krieger Charitable Trust, one of the largest donations in Rutgers Law School's 115-year history.
Robert Steinbaum, the associate dean for advancement at Rutgers Law School, said the gift would primarily be used to re-establish the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women's Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, which discontinued operations in the early 2000s.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught at Rutgers Law School from 1963 to 1972 and created one of the first legal seminars on women's rights during her University professorship.
Professor Emerita Nadine Taub founded the legal clinic in the early 1970s, then known as the Rutgers Women's Rights Clinic, and was inspired by Ginsburg's legal philosophy and advocacy of gender equality on campus.
Steinbaum said that Rutgers Law School faculty decided to restore the clinic after Ginsburg died in 2020 and aimed to expand the clinic's mission to encompass gender justice issues in the law along with women's rights.
The clinic will now engage up to 10 law students per semester on the Camden and Newark campuses under faculty supervision, he said.
"Rutgers Law School is known for its emphasis on clinical education," he said. "It has 16 clinics … to conduct litigation on a variety of issues, either large public interest issues … or representing ordinary people who can't afford their legal issues in areas like special education, immigration or taxation."
The Stephanie and Harold Krieger Charitable Trust, named after Rutgers Law School alum Harold Krieger and his spouse Stephanie Krieger, sought to financially support the re-institution of the clinic at his suggestion, Steinbaum said.
He said that the official reopening of the clinic is planned for the summer of 2025, and the monetary funds from the gift will be invested in the University's endowment to maintain the annual income utilized toward the clinic.
Additionally, Steinbaum said that a $1 million portion of the gift will be used to create the Stephanie and Harold Krieger Scholarship at Rutgers Law School in Newark, which intends to serve first-generation college students on campus.
The scholarship will provide one law student in each class year a grant of $13,000 and be applied against the approximately $30,000 in annual tuition and fees, he said.
Regarding the importance of the gift and its impact on students, Steinbaum said that the new clinic will increase the number of clinical education slots that are currently limited for student access due to lengthy waiting lists and the implementation of a lottery system.
"Clinical education is encouraged very much," he said. "The American Bar Association requires a certain amount of credits in what's called experiential learning. So that people are actually doing — not just listening to lectures on what the law is. So this expands the opportunities that the Law School can offer for our students."
Also, Steinbaum said there is a significant impact from the pro bono litigation for the clinic and helping members of the public who may not find paid legal assistance viable.
For example, he said that the clinic could address various legal issues on gender and gender identity, such as reproductive rights, discrimination against transgender people, pay and workplace inequity and gender restrictions in public benefits programs.
Overall, Steinbaum said that he believes these new initiatives bolster the numerous University-wide programs dedicated to women's rights and benefit the academic and civic reputation of the Rutgers community.
"It shows the world (that) the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg means much to many, many Americans and across the world," he said. "I just think this is one more good reason for Rutgers college students who want to become lawyers to apply to Rutgers Law School."